The tribology of linear tape recording systems
This thesis is devoted to the tribology at the head~to~tape interface of linear tape recording systems, OnStream ADRTM system being used as an experimental platform, Combining experimental characterisation with computer modelling, a comprehensive picture of the mechanisms involved in a tape recording system is drawn. The work is designed to isolate the mechanisms responsible for the physical spacing between head and tape with the aim of minimising spacing losses and errors and optimising signal output. Standard heads-used in ADR current products-and prototype heads- DLC and SPL coated and dummy heads built from a AI203-TiC and alternative single-phase ceramics intended to constitute the head tape-bearing surface-are tested in controlled environment for up to 500 hours (exceptionally 1000 hours), Evidences of wear on the standard head are mainly observable as a preferential wear of the TiC phase of the AI203-TiC ceramic, The TiC grains are believed to delaminate due to a fatigue wear mechanism, a hypothesis further confirmed via modelling, locating the maximum von Mises equivalent stress at a depth equivalent to the TiC recession (20 to 30 nm). Debris of TiC delaminated residues is moreover found trapped within the pole-tip recession, assumed therefore to provide three~body abrasive particles, thus increasing the pole-tip recession. Iron rich stain is found over the cycled standard head surface (preferentially over the pole-tip and to a lesser extent over the TiC grains) at any environment condition except high temperature/humidity, where mainly organic stain was apparent, Temperature (locally or globally) affects staining rate and aspect; stain transfer is generally promoted at high temperature. Humidity affects transfer rate and quantity; low humidity produces, thinner stains at higher rate. Stain generally targets preferentially head materials with high electrical conductivity, i.e. Permalloy and TiC. Stains are found to decrease the friction at the head-to-tape interface, delay the TiC recession hollow-out and act as a protective soft coating reducing the pole-tip recession. This is obviously at the expense of an additional spacing at the head-to-tape interface of the order of 20 nm. Two kinds of wear resistant coating are tested: diamond like carbon (DLC) and superprotective layer (SPL), 10 nm and 20 to 40 nm thick, respectively. DLC coating disappears within 100 hours due possibly to abrasive and fatigue wear. SPL coatings are generally more resistant, particularly at high temperature and low humidity, possibly in relation with stain transfer. 20 nm coatings are found to rely on the substrate wear behaviour whereas 40 nm coatings are found to rely on the adhesive strength at the coating/substrate interface. These observations seem to locate the wear-driving forces 40 nm below the surface, hence indicate that for coatings in the 10 nm thickness range-· i,e. compatible with high-density recording-the substrate resistance must be taken into account. Single-phase ceramic as candidate for wear-resistant tape-bearing surface are tested in form of full-contour dummy-heads. The absence of a second phase eliminates the preferential wear observed at the AI203-TiC surface; very low wear rates and no evidence of brittle fracture are observed.